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How much is that gazzillionaire REALLY worth? Sometimes it takes a stickfigure to give us some perspective...

Worth

Worth

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Worth

How much is that gazzillionaire REALLY worth? Sometimes it takes a stickfigure to give us some perspective...

So, the basic idea of this cartoon should be pretty obvious: People are worth more than any sum of money you can assign to them. And when times are tough economically, we tend to start valuing others, and more importantly, ourselves, based on how we're doing financially. So this seemed like a good message to try to convey.

The funny thing is, it was reaaaally hard to find a quote for this. I just went ahead and animated it, assuming that there were dozens of perfect quotes to express this idea. But it was much harder than I expected.

When I finally did find the perfect quote, it wasn't where I expected it. This statement is not from "The Ethics of Our Fathers", or from an ethical midrashic teaching. It actually shows up right in the middle of a legal discussion in the Talmud. The discussion is like this: A guy is running for his life from a killer, and during the course of his escape he breaks some stuff. Is he responsible for the damages? The answer is no, "a person's money should not be valued above his life." Sounds right. The guy was running for his life, that's all that mattered at the moment.

So why am I revealing the somewhat technical context of an otherwise non-technical ethical statement? Here's why: The entire tractate of the Talmud that this quote is from discusses monetary damages: how much things and people are worth if you break or hurt them, and how much you'd have to pay. And in that context, when we're trying to figure out how a person should take responsibility in financial situations, it's actually important to be focused on the person's money. But as soon as the topic of discussion shifts over to life itself, the monetary values become irrelevant.

What this means to me is that while I'm trying to figure out what my most responsible course of action is in a time of financial difficulty, then it's appropriate for me to be focusing on monetary values. But if I start thinking about my life, and what it's worth, then I have to remember that my life means so much more than my money.

That's what I got out of it. But the nice thing about these stick figures cartoons is that I'm never really sure what they're supposed to mean. So if y'all have a different take on it, I'd love to hear it.

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Anonymous Nj June 27, 2016

really?? who was that guy? Reply

Marietta Payson, AZ USA October 18, 2010

Stick figure I have a difficult child, and these little vignettes have proven wonderful for giving lessons, they have opened doors to communications between us. Please keep up the good work. Reply

Anonymous Melbourne, VIC June 21, 2010

Amazing! It is so nice to see this medium being used for holiness! Beautiful concepts conveyed so well! From strength to strength. Reply

Karin Yountville, CA January 14, 2010

Too me your Worth a lot more than you would ever realize..or maybe you do...because you sure don't have to hit me over the head with a baggette...you just have to present Godly things in front of me to see...I really liked what you wrote...it brought more meaning ....to see you more clearly, the creator...of the stick figures vignette....you and your spiritual team at chabad.org...are really great. thanks for all you messages.. Reply

Yosef Marcus S. Mateo, CA October 2, 2009

saying for this Wawsome as ususal.
There is a comment from the Rebbe Rayatz pointing out the telling obsurdity of the expression: "How much is he worth?" Reply

Anonymous San Antonio, TX April 24, 2009

Game Show Is there any way you could turn this into a game show, with prizes? That would be the only way I could enjoy these stick-figures even more! We could guess the meaning and then search for a quote that supports our position, there could be voting and the winner gets some cool prize, each week a new challenge, does anyone else think that would be fun?? Maybe regional teams, competing?? Stick Figure Challenge Bowl, or something like that could be sweet. Maybe I shouldn't send emails when I'm on a chocolate high.....;d Anyway I love this stuff!!!! Reply

Chaim Sydney, Australai March 5, 2009

worth I feel the same as you as a rabbi (sick in bed right now, how else would i have time to write this? :-) ) I have many people coming to me feeling down and need some uplifting message. This is a good one! Reply

Betty Jo Mathes Scottsdale , Az-USA February 24, 2009

Worth My true worth is measured only by the wisdom and the love that Father God provides me. There is no number greater than the blessings he bestows. Praise the Lord! Reply

stehen inverness, uk February 17, 2009

worth In the time of Elizabeth First, her chancellor was said to be richer than herself. When asked to give account of his wealth, Moses the chancellor said he was only worth one hundred pounds. The sum he gave yearly to charity, as the rest could taken away quicker than the queen could click her fingers! Reply

Sharon February 16, 2009

worth In these economic difficult times, It makes me think that if the market really goes south in the US, most of us will become slaves to the rich. My first thought was that is how the Jews where valued by Hitler. I am glad I know the value G-d places on people. Reply

tzviki mitzfat tzfat, tzfat February 15, 2009

what? i'm sorry... chabad.org rocks this planet but this video is simply inconsistent with it's high standard of depth and beauty. Reply

Daniel February 11, 2009

Totally on the money with this one A couple years ago I bought a new laptop for $2,000. I was driving home with it in my crummy hand-me-down car and thought:

"How ironic: this car is worth less than the goods it's carrying!"

And then I realized, HEY - this car is ALWAYS worth less than the goods it's carrying - it carries ME! Or my family, or any human being is worth more than the car that carries them! Reply

Rachelle Baruch February 6, 2009

Worth Also - the gazzilionaire is worth everything and even more so - it depends on the value being used for measurement - as a life, he is worth everything. Being a gazzillionaire doesn't necessarily mean he is a slave to money. It could be he is one of the fortunate ones for whom money is a willing servant. We never really do know for sure do we? It's a matter for personal choice. Reply

Rachelle Baruch February 6, 2009

Worth The depth and beauty of this is in its subtlety. Reply

Anonymous February 4, 2009

thought provoking! Why did you use the phrase "as a slave"? How is being a slave like stolen money? Reply

Chaim M. New York, U.S. February 3, 2009

Nice the person that officially is worth $1,000,000,000,004 looks like the monopoly face, and we all know how much this happens in monopoly, that you suddenly win money, and then lose etc... Reply

Sharon February 3, 2009

Human value A human soul is definitely of more value then any amount of money. G-d is the creator and owner of all heaven and earth. What G-d values is a person who walks in his commandments and statues by their own free will. This is something that G-d does not create, because it would be a robot. The thing that is of most value in the universe is a person who reveals the character of G-d to the universe by living by the Torah. (see Malachi chp 3&4) and teaching others to do the same. G-d’s spirit will speak through such a person as he did through the prophets. Reply

Patti February 3, 2009

Love it too This is really good work.

Thank you. Reply

mussia usa February 1, 2009

RE:love it A bajillion and five might be nice,but I think that it's worth more thana bajillion and six. Reply

Anonymous riverdale, ny February 1, 2009

worth-stick figure i enjoyed the fact that one's financial standing should not be the sole value of the person. its seem people with money are put on a pedestal (held in high esteem) --when in fact they maybe inconsiderate and sometimes even cruel to others. an unfortunate confusion of value.. i like the idea that a good name (know for doing good deeds) is more valuable than a bank account.
thank you for bringing this point to light. Reply

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